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UWRF receives $1 million for classroom renovations

November 4, 2010

The UW-River Falls received about $1 million from the State of Wisconsin for the renovation of four classrooms around the university.

“We were fortunate enough to be granted all four requests. It’s amazing how much money we got.” said the Division of Technology Services Manager of Teaching and Learning Technologies Mary-Alice Muraski. “Our normal amount of allocation for classroom modernization would be about $250 thousand dollars.”

The classrooms that will be receiving renovations are 120 South Hall, 205 North Hall and 200 and 231 Ag Science.

“We looked at all of the classrooms that we have and prioritized them in terms of the rooms that needed the most help,” Campus Planner Dale Braun said.

The four classrooms chosen were top priority based on specifications such as physical condition or the need for a technology upgrade.

The $1 million that UWRF recieved to renovate these rooms came from the State of Wisconsin.

“Every two years, they have an allocation of money,” Braun said. “We got $1 million out of $5 million [total]. That’s pretty good for a small campus of our size. We received more money that UW-Madison did out of this particular fund.”

Muraski said last year at this time Braun brought together faculty, staff and deans on campus to make a proposal to send to the UW-System discussing what classrooms to renovate.

“I was involved with that, and I was so excited that I started crying when I heard how much we got,” Muraski said.

South Hall 120 was last renovated in 1993, North Hall 205 was renovated in 1978, and Ag Science 200 was renovated in two different stages: first in the late ‘80s and then again in the late ‘90s. Ag Science 231 has never been renovated since it was first built in 1965.

“More and more professors are utilizing technology as they teach. This renovation will allow us to offer larger sections, particularly for business. Professors might be more willing to lecture in [these classrooms],” Muraski said. “This will also increase our ability to offer more classes and larger classes.”

The renovations will include new seating, more handicap accessibility and better projection for Ag Science lecture hall 200. Ag Science 231 will be renovated into a bigger classroom by combining 231 and 230 into one classroom. South Hall 120 will be turned into a large lecture hall that will be able to seat about students. North Hall 205 will be remolded to have a better layout and be more technology friendly.

“These classrooms will be wonderful opportunities for students and faculty to, at this point, almost experiment with using student technology rather than having to come to the computer labs,” Muraski said. “I just think it’s a wonderful opportunity to try and work together on that.”

In the mid ‘90s, UWRF proposed technology enhanced classrooms, and Muraski was on the group of faculty that pulled together that proposal.

“Tech classrooms have been my life on this campus since the very beginning. The first tech-classrooms came online in the fall of 1997. We had four tech classrooms, and we now have 83,” Muraski said. “What we are trying to achieve now is consistency across these rooms so that when faculty walk in they are not confused on how to turn on the technology. That has been an issue for many years and we’re now changing that.”

Braun said professors and students have had a positive attitude about the renovations.

“The acoustics in [Ag Science 200] are pretty bad,” said Chair of the Biology Department Mark Bergland. “I taught in that classroom for 30 years; it’s a big deal that they are remodeling.”

The construction on these will begin after the last final of spring semester and is to be completed by the fall semester of 2011.

“I wish we could do more classrooms. I think that these are great projects,” Braun said. “I’m proud of the campus for selecting four very competitive projects that yielded a great contribution of money from the state of Wisconsin. I think that they recognized our need. I just wish that we could do more.”